March 2022 Connection

“Care Is Christian”

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change; 
courage to change the things I can; 
and wisdom to know the difference.
Living one day at a time; 
enjoying one moment at a time; 
accepting hardships as the pathway to peace; 
taking, as He did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it; 
trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His Will; 
that I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him
forever in the next. 
“Serenity Prayer” by Reinhold Niebuhr (1892-1971)
As I have shared openly before, I am grateful for the availability of mental health care, counseling, and psychotherapy (a technical word for talk therapy with a mental health provider) in my life and for the way it helps me to not only treat and control my depression and anxiety, but also for the ways that it can help me make the enormity of life and all of its chaos a bit more manageable. I sincerely believe that destigmatizing mental health and the care and treatment of it is one of the most important things we can do to care for the whole person.
And so, I say once again, if you are ever feeling as though it would be helpful to talk to someone about your mental health, there are a number of starting points. The first is that you can talk with your primary care provider (the doctor you go to most). They can help to point you in helpful directions for care that will best fit your needs. Also, it is not uncommon for our physical and mental health to overlap considerably. A second starting point is with me, your pastor. While I can offer pastoral care and limited counseling, I can also provide helpful referrals to mental health professionals who can be of considerable help.
As I share this, I am wanting to also share an experience that I had in my own counseling session just weeks ago. While talking with my therapist, I was describing how I responded, emotionally, to the experience of our family all having COVID-19. I happened to mention that I fought the temptation to react with frustration or exasperation, choosing instead to focus on naming what I could control verses what I could not control. For instance, I could not control that we were all sick at the same time. What I could control was my decisions to rest rather than work when time (and naps) allowed.
During this conversation, my therapist, Paul, reminded me of the serenity prayer by Reinhold Niebuhr and its reminder that there are things we can change, and things we can’t, and that the things we can’t change can actually teach us something about ourselves and perhaps even our faith. And so, he asked the question: “What did you learn from having COVID-19, and will you share it with anyone?”
And so, my answer is this: I did learn something from the experience of having had COVID-19, and that is that life is fragile. And I don’t mean that in a doom and gloom sense. Instead, I mean that we are not invincible people who never need care, compassion and love. In a world that so often tells us to pull ourselves up, jump back on our feet and to get back to work, we need to be kinder to ourselves. We need to be kinder to one another. There is no weakness to be found in seeking help, and there is no weakness in naming that we have our limits.
Brothers and sisters, in this season of Lent when we turn our attention to our common humanity, let us reflect on the reality that we are all in need of God’s grace, we are all in need of one another’s kindness, and to care for ourselves as well as others is Christian!
Love for you,
Pastor Brian
Download Connection